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People v. Scott

Supreme Court of California

May 19, 2014

THE PEOPLE, Plaintiff and Appellant,
v.
JAMES RUSSELL SCOTT, Defendant and Respondent

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Superior Court of Monterey County, No. SS080912. Mark E. Hood, Judge. Court of Appeal, Sixth Appellate District, No. H037923.

Kamala D. Harris, Attorney General, Dane R. Gillette, Chief Assistant Attorney General, Gerald A. Engler, Assistant Attorney General, Laurence K. Sullivan and Bridget Billeter, Deputy Attorneys General, for Plaintiff and Appellant.

Dallas Sacher, under appointment by the Supreme Court, and Laura Burgardt, under appointment by the Court of Appeal, for Defendant and Respondent.

Opinion by Cantil-Sakauye, C. J., expressing the unanimous view of the court.

OPINION

[171 Cal.Rptr.3d 639] [324 P.3d 828] CANTIL-SAKAUYE, C. J.

In 2011, the Legislature enacted and amended the Criminal Justice Realignment Act of 2011 addressing public safety (Stats. 2011, ch. 15, § 1; Stats. 2011, 1st Ex. Sess. 2011-2012, ch. 12, § 1 (the Realignment Act or the Act)). As relevant here, the Realignment Act significantly changes the punishment for some felony convictions. Under the terms of the Act, low-level felony offenders who have neither current nor prior convictions for serious or violent offenses, who are not required to register as sex offenders and who are not subject to an enhancement for multiple felonies involving fraud or embezzlement, no longer serve their sentences in state prison. Instead, such offenders serve their sentences either entirely in county jail or partly in county jail and partly under the mandatory supervision

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of the county probation officer. (Pen. Code, § 1170, subd. (h)(2), (3), (5).) [1] Felony offenders who are sentenced to county jail may be eligible for a county home detention program in lieu of confinement (§ 1203.016, subd. (a)) and are not subject to parole, which extends only to persons who have served state prison terms (§ 3000 et seq.). The Legislature provided that the sentencing changes made by the Realignment Act " shall be applied prospectively to any person sentenced on or after October 1, 2011." (§ 1170, subd. (h)(6) (hereafter section 1170(h)(6)).)

[171 Cal.Rptr.3d 640] A conflict in Court of Appeal decisions has developed regarding the applicability of the Realignment Act to the category of defendants who, prior to October 1, 2011, have had a state prison sentence imposed with execution of the sentence suspended pending successful completion of a term of probation, and who, after October 1, 2011, have their probation revoked and are ordered to serve their previously imposed term of incarceration. (Compare People v. Clytus (2012) 209 Cal.App.4th 1001, 1006-1009 [147 Cal.Rptr.3d 448] ( Clytus ) [the Realignment Act applies, defendant to serve term in county jail] with People v. Gipson (2013) 213 Cal.App.4th 1523, 1528-1530 [153 Cal.Rptr.3d 428] ( Gipson ) [the Realignment Act does not apply, defendant to serve term in state prison].) [2] In this case, the Court of Appeal agreed with the decision in Clytus and held that the trial court had properly directed that defendant's sentence should be served in county jail rather than in state prison. We granted review to resolve the [324 P.3d 829] conflict in the Court of Appeal decisions on this issue.

We conclude that the Realignment Act is not applicable to defendants whose state prison sentences were imposed and suspended prior to October 1, 2011. Upon revocation and termination of such a defendant's probation, the trial court ordering execution of the previously imposed sentence must order the sentence to be served in state prison according to the terms of the original sentence, even if the defendant otherwise qualifies for incarceration in county jail under the terms of the Realignment Act. Accordingly, we reverse the Court of Appeal's contrary determination.

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